Summary: Wouldn’t it be great if we were known as people who were “full of goodness”? As we submit to Christ, this will be said of us!
Gliding Toward Goodness
Rev. Brian Bill
Several people have asked us if we had a good vacation. We actually had a very good time. The weather was chilly, but good. The girls swam several times each day, went on a good boat ride, and had a good time playing in the forest. Our family went out for some good ice cream and Beth and I were able to go out on a good date, which we followed up with some more good ice cream. I had some good runs and took each of the girls on a good long walk. In fact, everything was good because we were in a good state!
The fishing was really good this year. Things weren’t so good a couple years ago when I took the girls fishing. I wanted them to experience the whole process so after we caught a bunch of fish, I made them sit down and watch me scale them, cut their heads off, and take all the guts out. They were totally grossed out and sad because they had named each of the fish! Then, I had them follow me into the kitchen where I dipped the fish in flour and fried them in hot oil. They told me they didn’t want to eat them but I told them that it was good for them to have this experience.
Things went downhill fast. What I thought was good turned out to be very bad. Tears were flying everywhere. Let’s just say that our girls will never eat fish again thanks to me! Now we practice “catch and release” when we go fishing. We put them in a bucket with water and watch them swim around for about 15 minutes and then we put them back into the lake. That’s good for the girls and real good for the fish.
As we continue in our study of the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23, we come to the fruit of goodness. This fruit is closely linked to the fruit of kindness, which Jeff Williams preached on last week – and did a great job! Let’s read this passage together: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”
In the beginning of our English language, the word “good” carried the same connotation as the name “God.” In Jewish tradition, the title, “The Good” was actually used for God. Goodness may appear to be the most obvious fruit but is in fact, often misunderstood and even maligned. Our culture tends to make fun of those who are “goody-two-shoes” kind of people. While love, joy, and peace step up to the plate and hit home runs, goodness does its best to just get a single. Many don’t consider it very important or even desirable today.
Part of our problem is that we’ve overused the word. We say that we had a good vacation, a good cry, or a good meal. This morning I want us to look at how the word “good” is used in the Bible. In particular, I want to focus on an encounter Jesus had with a man who considered himself to be very good. I’m going to draw a composite picture from the accounts in Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22, and Luke 18:18-23, but will focus primarily on Mark’s version if you’d like to follow along.
After watching Jesus pick up little children and bless them, a wealthy man ran up to Jesus, fell on his knees, and as he tried to catch his breath said, “Good teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Jesus turned to the inquisitive man and asked, “Why do you call me good? No one is good – except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”
The man did a quick inventory and said, “I’ve kept all these since I was a boy. There’s got to be more. Is there something that I’m still missing?
Surprisingly, Jesus did not argue with him or point out that he couldn’t possibly have kept all these commands. Instead, he looked intently at him with eyes of love and then said, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, his face fell. He walked away sad because he had a lot of money.
I see three main truths from this passage that will help us glide toward goodness.
• God is good
• We are not good
• Goodness comes as a result of following Christ
God is Good
This seeker of truth had everything he needed, or so it seemed. He was young. The phrase, “young man” places him between twenty-four and forty years of age. He was well respected. And he had a lot of cash. But he was not happy with his legalistic, performance oriented, graceless religion. He could sense that he was missing something and he wanted to make sure he was on the right path to heaven. The fact that he ran up to Jesus shows us that he was earnest. By kneeling he demonstrates his sincerity. It’s really quite a picture, isn’t it? This loaded leader comes running up to the peasant preacher from Galilee. All his life he had been taught that he had to do good things in order to be saved, but something was bothering him deep inside.